Saturday, June 30, 2012

Walt Disney World Princess 1/2 Marathon Report

In February, B and I returned to Walt Disney World to take part in the Princess Half Marathon. We had talked about doing this race for the last couple years, and when we had the opportunity to actually take our first vacation ever without kids, we jumped at the opportunity. We used the opportunity to get an upgraded room with a king bed overlooking a quaint courtyard at Disney's Port Orleans - Riverside.

We arrived Thursday, and the weather was absolutely fantastic. Warm during the days, and just cool enough to feel refreshing at night without the need for sweatshirts.

On Friday morning, we headed out to the "Fit For a Princess" Health and Wellness Expo at Disney's Wide World of Sports.

The Expo was huge as it always it at Disney. Because we had the luxury of time and no kids, we each had a massage courtesy of the staff at Florida Hospital. I almost fell asleep on the table, as my ankles and calves became more relaxed than they had been in a long time. We then shopped the merchandise a bit, but didn't buy too many items, although I still think B should have left with this little hat:
We then headed off to the resort to drop off all our items, and headed our for our official "carb load" meal, which is also one of our favorite places to eat - Via Napoli pizzeria in Epcot. We highly recommend it. The prices are very fair for Disney, and you never leave hungry.

 Saturday was spent staying low key and hydrating as much as possible. Traveling to another state to race always has its challenges, and we know that staying hydrated can make a big difference. We ate one more carb-meal and then went to bed early.

 We were up at 2 am again, and on the bus as soon as we could. We arrived to the Epcot Parking lot and made the long walk to the athlete's area.
However, this time, Disney gave the entrance a little more pomp and circumstance.
 The athlete's area was great as always. Plenty of food/beverage trucks, souvenir stands, and the gigantic bag check was working well for those who used it. Before too long, we started going toward the starting corral, past a bunch of broken down attaction vehicles. Then we were in our corral, waiting for the start.

 We were in Corral D, in the front half of the field so it didn't take too long to see our fireworks and begin the course.

 The course is exactly the same as the one we had just run in January, which we both unexpectedly set a PR. We went through the course, where once again.
After crossing the Magic Kingdom Gates, we headed toward the Ticket and Transportation Center, where we both decided we were due for a bathroom break. Usually in this race, there are plenty of woods around, and guys will just run into the woods and handle their business. At this point, we started to see both men and women doing just that. B knew that the TTC was close, and that there should be regular bathrooms there, as well as port-a-johns (we were guessing). We went another mile and a half without seeing any port-a-johns, but eventually saw some bathrooms at the TTC. We each headed into our respective sides. As I was entering the men's room, I noticed 3 or 4 women coming out of it. I entered to find one of the strangest sights I've ever seen. Men were using the urinals with a line of women behind them waiting to use the stalls. The best part is everyone acted like it was totally normal. I was in an out in just a couple minutes, but it took B almost 10 minutes to get out of the women's bathroom because of the long line that was still coming out of the door. We left the TTC, and headed toward the Contemporary Resort, and mile 5.

Because B battles with her IT bands, she decided to be pro-active and take Tylenol at every medical tent in an effort to stay ahead of the pain.
I also used the biofreeze pumps to keep my knees pain free. Disney knows that a lot of first time runners are going to be running in their races, so they have medical stations much earlier in the route than most other major races. Shortly after the last picture, we were headed toward the Contemporary Resort
And then into the service Entrance for the Magic Kingdom:

This is what it looks like on the backside of Main Street, USA.
Shortly after, we made the turn onto Main Street, and posed for a quick picture:

We made the turn into tomorrowland, and followed the path into Fantasyland, and then went through the castle, and into Liberty Square:

We then went past Splash Mountain, and once again backstage toward float storage and mile 7:

Once again, the crowd slowed way down after leaving the Magic Kingdom. We tried to make time, as this was the boring stretch with nothing but cones and trees to look at, but just couldn't make any headway through the crowd. We eventually were able to gain some elbow room when we past the Grand Floridian Resort, and the road widened a bit.
We made our way past mile 10, and went up the cloverleaf onramp, where the 3 bridges to Epcot were awaiting us. For whatever reason, we couldn't get the steam to stay in a running groove. We continued on into Epcot and we were charging as hard as we could, trying to overcome the mental hurdles.
This was the 3rd time I've run this route, and I have to say that the out and back into Epcot felt like it was twice as long as it was the last 2. I had music blaring in my ears, trying to uplift me. I looked at Becky and could tell she was zoning out as best she could. We exited Epcot and crossed the finish line. We received our finisher's medals, and Becky received some pixie dust.

We didn't know exactly what our time was, but we knew we were going to be very close to the PR we had just sent a month prior. When we got on the bus, I was able to access our official results on the internet, and had a finishing time of 2:50:37. 30 seconds slower than our PR a month earlier. We both knew that the 10 minute bathroom stop at the TTC hurt us. We went back to our resort, showered, took a nap, and then went to Epcot where I celebrated with a Margarita.
All in all, it was still a great race, and we really did get slowed down by a lot of things along the course. It's not build to set PR's, although this course gets my adrenaline going like no other course I've run, which does help keep the pace up. At this point, I thought that I had collected the last RunDisney medal that was currently offered at the 1/2 marathon or less distance. Shortly after this race, they announced the new Tower of Terror 10-Miler. I guess I'll have to add that one to the hit list.

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